Baker School System joins cooperative to save money

The city of Baker School System will be the 46th district to join the District Cooperative of Louisiana, pending approval of the School Board’s attorney, Winston DeCuir.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to enter into the agreement at a cost of $1,500.

The cooperative, also called the DCL, is managed by the Vermilion Parish School Board.

Jeffrey Hand, who serves as supervisor of distance learning and data analysis for the Vermilion Parish schools, told the board that he started the program in order to allow school districts to pool their resources.

The three pillars of DCL are volume discount purchases of resources such as software, non-duplication of efforts in creation of forms and other materials, and professional development for teachers and administrators. The idea is to let schools make the most of their resources.

“We’re not taking away from any district’s autonomy,” Hand said, adding that districts joining the cooperative quickly make the startup fee back in discounts from vendors. “West Feliciana Parish saved $18,000 right away,” he said.

Other business coming before the board included:

INSURANCE: The board voted unanimously to keep Blue Cross Blue Shield as the district’s employee health insurance carrier for the 2013-14 school year with an 8.7 percent rate increase. The district also received bids from Humana and United HealthCare, offering increases of 18.1 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively.

Under the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan premiums for employees only will go up from $502 to $546 and family coverage will rise from $1,433 to $1,558. The board did not discuss how much of the increase will be passed on to employees.

The board also unanimously agreed to keep ACE Group as the district’s liability insurance provider, LUBA for their workers’ compensation coverage and to switch to Amrisc for property insurance.

The district will pay $434,000 for the three combined insurance plans, a $50,000 increase from 2012-13.

SUNS CONTRACT: The board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Serving the Unique Needs of Students, or SUNS, Center, provided that the services include both Baker Heights and Bakerfield Elementary Schools.

According to the contract, SUNS will provide four days of professional development training on inclusive practices, student engagement, team building and dealing with “challenging behaviors.”